Happy Mother’s Day!

My darling daughters have treated me to Chinese food today!

They got enough to last us a couple of days, at least! We can’t order often, so when we do, we order a lot!

The Chinese restaurant we order from is right next to the lake, which is still covered with ice. What a refreshing breeze coming off the lake! Here, we are at 24C/75F, and tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter. So I really, really appreciate that we don’t need to do any cooking for a couple of days!

There is only one downside for today. I had some friends let me know that the thief that stole my personal Facebook account is at it again. The first scam they tried was to give away a PS5 in revenge for a cheating boyfriend. Today, they used the same pictures, but claimed it was meant for “my” newly deceased son. Of course, I have no son, and most people on my friends list would know that. But some whom I only know online through mutual interests might not. The first friend that let me know about it reported my old account as hacked (again!), and left a comment telling people my account was hacked and recommending unfriending me from that account. Since then, I’ve had another friend let me know about the scam post, which was at least flagged as false information by FB, but there’s nothing to show that there are any comments, so the first friend’s comment likely got removed, and I imagine she’s been blocked as well.

Some people are just slime.

But, I will not let that ruin my mother’s day!

Excuse me while I enjoy some delicious Chinese food!

The Re-Farmer

Unexpected Easter get together

I got a phone call from my brother this morning, letting me know he was going to our mother’s for Easter services. He had double checked that a particular restaurant would be open, so we arranged for me to meet them there.

I left early and was able to grab a table for us. He hadn’t told my mother that I would be there, so she was quite surprised. I’m not sure it was a good surprise – at least at first! 😄 Of course, she did eventually get around to asking why I didn’t go to church. Thankfully, my brother played interference and diverted her with some humour, because my answer would have been along the lines of “you. I don’t go to church because of you!” Which is partly true. I could go to church with her every Sunday, and it wouldn’t be good enough. Still, she was having one of her good days, so it was a pleasant visit overall. She even complimented me on my appearance. Okay, so it was really a backhanded insult, but I don’t think my mother even knows how to make a genuine compliment. 😄

It was good to get together, and especially to see my brother. I don’t see him anywhere near as much as I’d like to, and his wonderful wife even less (after my mother’s unending mistreatment of her, she no longer comes out to visit my mother – and I’m not sure my mother has even clued in to that. 😥)

As we were chatting, I mentioned the water in the path we’re having to walk through to get to the garage, and the that is starting to form. My brother had been wondering if we could simply go around it, but there’s just too much snow. On top of that, as the snow melts… well…

… when I left this morning, there was just the deeper part in the path. While doing my rounds this morning, I was breaking through ice. Still, I was able to walk through it and not get my feet wet. By this afternoon, the “lake” had grown, and it’s now deep enough to reach where the laces start on my boots and seep in. Unfortunately, my rubber boots have a big crack in them, so I have to get a new pair. It’s really hard to find rubber boots that will fit my battered, wide feet or my over-developed calves.

Minor inconveniences. I’m just happy to see the snow going away! Which should happen quickly. The weekly forecast has changed. We were supposed to slowly warm up today and over the next couple of days, still staying below 10C/50F, then jump up to 16 and 17C/61-63F Instead, we now have a high for today expected to reach 7C/45F, and highs of 15C/59F for the next three days! The average high for this time of year is about 8C/46F, though the record highs have reached as much as 20C/68F, while the record lows have reached down to -15C/5F.

I’ll take the 15C!

All in all, it’s working out to be a gorgeous day to celebrate Easter!

The Re-Farmer

Happy Easter!

May today be a day of great joy and blessings for you and yours!

Our basket this year included a multi-grain bread, figs and port sausage, ham, olives stuffed with blue cheese, a wheel of brie, salt, mustard with horseradish, parsley butter, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and hard boiled eggs, all of which received the traditional blessing.

He is risen, indeed!

The Re-Farmer

Living in a post card

The fog has mostly dissipated – I was still seeing touches of it while going my morning rounds.

My goodness, but it does make things beautiful, this time of year!

I couldn’t resist getting a picture from the same spot as yesterday.

The temperatures are nice and mild right now. As I write this, we’re at -8C/18F, with almost no breeze at all. We’re supposed to reach a high of -6C/21F today. A good day to finish clearing in front of the garage so I can open the doors to get my mother’s car out, and clear a few more paths.

One way we can tell how much more pleasant the weather is, is by the cats.

The usuals are back to preferring to eat on the cat house roof again. In this bunch, there’s only one that’s friendly. I can sometimes pet the black and white, but not often. Still more than I can come close to Broccoli. I don’t know how she’s been with her kittens gone. She’s been avoiding me, so perhaps she’s made an association between me and missing babies. I don’t know. I so want to socialize her more! We’ll have to wait longer before we can try to trap more females. The hard part is waiting for things to warm up, so there’s no chance of a critter freezing in the trap, but not so warm that they start going into heat and get pregnant, first.

Speaking of which, I saw Shop Towel skulking around when I put the food out. While I was switching the memory card on the trail cam (and melting the frost off the lens and solar panel), I heard a cat fight, and am guessing it involved Shop Towel.

Before going in, I tried to get some more pictures of the frost and was able to zoom in to get this little cutie.

We have not been able to keep up with the feeding this winter, because of the racoons destroying the hanging feeder, but the chickadees and blue jays have been raiding the kibble trays, instead!

While getting this shot, something strange in a tree above the storage house roof caught my eye.

Well, I guess we can see who Shop Towel went after! One of his older sons, no less. A couple of the grey and whites are much larger – more like their dad in size.

In other things, I spoke to my mother last night. She’s in need of a grocery shopping trip, which is why I want to clear the doors to her car. She was fully expecting to go to the grocery store today; apparently my sister is supposed to be visiting her, though my mother didn’t seem sure, when I spoke to her. I pointed out to her that it’s New Year’s Day. The stores will be closed. She sounded so surprised when I told her that. 😕 So, if all goes well, I’ll be heading out tomorrow to help her with shopping – in her own car!

For now, I’m monitoring cats. With the littles gone, I actually got a full night’s sleep! The ladies seem relieved to have the room to themselves again – even if Marlee still hisses at Butterscotch and Nosencrantz sometimes. Leyendecker and Cheddar seem to be looking for the littles when they come in. Meanwhile, I now have grandma, who moved out here with us, in with me. My daughters just let me know she’s been behaving oddly, like there is something stuck in her mouth. We thought it might have been something stuck in her throat, but I’ve seen her eating. She seems fine, until she suddenly makes retching faces and started rubbing the sides of her face with her paw. My one attempt to gently move her head for a look had her meow in alarm and run off, so I do think something is hurting her. Hopefully, it’s something that will work itself out. So far, she’s eating and drinking normally. Right now, she’s on my bed, not far from Marlee, and settling in for a nap.

I’ll have to get one of the girls to take over monitoring her when it’s time to get outside.

The Re-Farmer

Snow and frost, bye-bye bitties, and this is $353

Starting last night, heavy fog started moving across our province. It was heaviest in the south, with major visibility issues. Today, it reached us.

It was pretty light by the time I was doing this part of my rounds, and gosh, it does make the trees look pretty!

Though it does cause issues with how well the trail cams work! 😄

Yesterday, I had to head out in the morning to pick up some parcels at the post office before it closed for the holidays. The road had been plowed. Which is nice, but I started to get stuck trying to get through it with the van. So in the afternoon, I headed out with a shovel to clear it.

Which is really hard to see, even after trying to increase the contrast when I resized the photo! 😄 I did the end of the driveway, from the gate to the road, with a shovel rather than breaking out Spewie. The plow ridge was too much for that little snow blower.

Which meant getting out today was much, much easier!

Today, we said goodbye to the bitties.

Tissue is the last of the inside cats that needed to be spayed. She is available for adoption, but we will be bringing her back home on the 4th. They’re scheduled to be spayed on the 2nd.

Walnut (who would be Tissue’s baby sister) may not be spayed right away, though. The littles are all dealing with upper respiratory issues, and the vet might not be willing to spay her until that’s been treated. Talking to the Cat Lady, she was thinking either the vet would spay her, and they’d keep her for 2 weeks of antibiotic treatment, or the vet won’t do it, they’ll treat her for 2 weeks, and then hope for another spay clinic (which is $75, instead of $350).

While I was working on this post, however, I started getting messages from the Cat Lady, asking what we know about Walnut’s age. We know she’s at least 6 months old, even though she is so tiny. Well, it turns out the Cat Lady has someone who is interested in adopting a tiny cat. Walnut may already have a forever home lined up! The bitties, of course, won’t be up for adoption for a while, yet.

Meanwhile, because of the respiratory issues, Tissue is currently isolated from the rest of the Cat Lady’s cats, who are all sniffling right now. The bitties, of course, will be isolated in their own kennel for awhile, too. Apparently, this particular strain of upper respiratory problems, which has been a problem for at least 30 years, is especially bad this year. Another rescue she is connected with has lost ALL their adult cats to it! For it to take out adult cats is very unusual. When she was last at the vet, all the other people with cats in the waiting room, their cats were stuffy and sneezing.

The lysine we’ve been giving them – even though they are probably not getting much of a dose – will help. It used to be, lysine treatment was only for a month, but the vet is telling her that now, it’s lysine for life. !!!

So we will all be taking extra care with the cats. Being as isolated as we are, we don’t have to worry too much about the cats being in contact with other colonies compared to more populated areas, but the Cat Lady has to take extra care, just in her own house, and she has more than 20 right now.

We meet in a parking lot near a Walmart, so after we parted ways, I took advantage of the situation and did some shopping. We are well stocked with most things, which meant that – aside from cat food (the Cat Lady casually loaded another bag of cat food into our van, along with another cat bed, while we were chatting!) – we could indulge a bit for New Year’s treats.

Which is why this cart load is $353 and change (plus a donation to the Children’s Hospital).

There’s 5 different types of frozen appetizers in there, which we’re having today – early, because none of us intend to stay up to midnight! – as well as a couple of cheeses, a couple of charcuterie combos and a couple of baguettes for tomorrow. I got a couple of pies as well, and some cranberry ginger ale. Along with the dry and wet cat food, I had a request for some “healthy-ish” cereal for my husband, plus a large jar of olives, both for the charcuterie, and for general snacking. There’s a bag of clementines, and two bags of avocados. Those were under $2 for a bag of five avocados! These days, we’re lucky to pay less than $2 for just one.

There’s also a couple of bags of pistachios for van snacks, and a couple of popcorn seasonings. Last of all are a couple of Command Strip hooks I remembered to get, some batteries my daughters needed, and some painkillers for me. I ran out a while ago.

That’s it. The cart isn’t even full, and it was over $350

Before heading for home, I messaged the family to let them know I’d need help unloading. We can’t drive up to the house right now, and the path shoveled to the garage is not wide enough for the wagon.

When I got home, however, I found my daughter had broken Spewie out and widened the path, and even got paths to the burn ring and almost all the way to the electricity meter. The extension cord wasn’t long enough to reach all the way, and she didn’t want to break out another one. So she was shoveling in front of the garage, instead.

When I came in, though, I had another surprise.

The driveway was cleared again!

I was going to work on it tomorrow, with Spewie, but now we just need to clear the rest right in front of the garage, and paths in the yard.

As you can see, even though I increased the contrast in the photo, we still had fog.

Driving out, the fog got thicker the further south I went. By the time I was driving home, it was the other way around. When I was loading the van, there wasn’t any fog anymore, but the further north I drove, the denser it got. One stretch of my route is nothing but open fields in all directions, with just the occasional shelter belt around a farmyard visible. With the white snow and the dense fog, there was no horizon, except on the highway itself – and even then, I was seeing a vehicle in front of me slowly disappearing, even though we were not getting any further apart.

That combination of snow and fog really affects the visibility!

I was certainly glad to get home!

So now, we will celebrate New Year’s early, and be in bed well before midnight! 😄😄

The Re-Farmer

Year End Review: Our top 10 most popular posts

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve! Let’s take a look at how things have been on the blog for the past year.

As we did last year, we will have two top ten lists. The first will be the posts with the highest number of views in 2022. The other will be the posts actually written in 2022 that got the most views.

All links will open new taps, so you won’t lose your place!

Here are the overall top 10 posts with the most visits, starting from lowest to highest.

10: Fall Garden Update: Crespo squash This one is from 2021. We did try to grow Crespo squash again in 2022, but they did so very poorly. Yes, I plan to try again!

9: Recommended: CS Brews This is from my 2020 Recommended series.

8: Presto, Change-o! I saw a traffic spike to this 2021 post in the fall. I suspect a lot of Canadians were looking for information on pressure canning in 2022. Particularly since we don’t have anywhere we can take the gauges to for calibration.

7: Making Crab apple cider vinegar: airlock or cheesecloth? This post goes back to 2020. In 2022, I saw a large spike in traffic to crab apple related posts. Last year, we had no crab apples to harvest, and I don’t think we were the only ones. This fall, it seems we were not the only ones to have an excellent harvest to do things with!

6: Sourdough Cornmeal Pancakes This one goes back to 2018, and remains a popular post.

5: Chokecherries, ready to freeze This post, from 2019 also sees a jump in traffic in the fall. We, however, have had no chokecherries to speak of for two years in a row, now.

4: Our 2022 garden: Baker Creek seed order is in! Our first 2022 related post – and it was written in 2021!

3: Making kluski; Polish drop noodles This post from 2020 still sees some regular traffic. I also now have the sudden urge to make some kluski! 😄

2: Making hard crab apple cider; will it work? Another post from 2020, and yes, it did. We have a 2022 batch of it fermenting right now, too!

1: Things with crab apples: apple cider vinegar Hmm… I see a pattern here! This post from 2019 saw the largest spike in traffic in the fall I’ve seen in a long time! It looks like crab apples did well for a lot of people in 2022!

I see another pattern in all these popular posts. They are all food related, and all but 2 are related to preserving food in some way!

I think that tells us something of what’s been important to people in the past year.

Now, we have the top 10 posts that were actually written in 2022.

10: First snow A 2022 cat post makes the first entry in this year’s top 10 list, and it’s not even two months old!

9: Cabbages update – and a fundraiser announcement We’ve had so much help from the cat lady and her rescue, but nothing compares to how she went all out in the fight for Cabbages’ survival. I’m happy to say that Cabbages is not only healthy and happy with the Cat Lady and her family, but her treatment is now being used as a case study by other vets, in the treatment of other severely ill cats. Saving Cabbages is saving the lives of other cats!

8: Large batch crab apple cider vinegar The crab apple theme continues!

7: Hard Crab Apple Cider follow up – I am the Queen of Procrastination! The end results of hard apple cider, that was started in 2020.

6: Getting Cozy (crochet talk) The cozy I made for my tea mug has disappeared. I think the cats dragged it off somewhere!

5: Thoughts on being prepared Okay, I just got distracted by reading this post over again! It remains quite relevant. With the winter storms that have just passed through much of Canada and the US a short while ago, I truly believe this is something we all need to consider, no matter where we live. There is one thing I would add to my commentary. We’ve found that ghee, purchased in restaurant quantities, can be a LOT cheaper than buying the jars in the grocery store. Ghee is a shelf stable butter, and would be an excellent addition to a preparedness pantry!

4: Remembered to order: from Lee Valley I’m rather curious about why a post about getting a sharpening stone and holster for our scythe got this much traffic!

3: Sometimes, I hate being right (convoy talk) The use of the Emergency Measures Act against legal, peaceful protestors has gone through its mandatory committee investigation. The investigation – as biased as it was – proved that there was absolutely no reason for it to have been invoked, and that our Prime Dictator and media repeatedly lied about the convoy. But will anyone be held accountable for it? Of course not. Our Prime Dictator should have resigned years ago, the RCMP should have laid charges against him (but didn’t, for political reasons) – and that was even before he went full dictator – but there has been zero accountability. And most Canadians have no idea what happened, or are too apathetic to care.

2: Two pounds! Another Cabbages update.

1: Recommended: RoseRed Homestead – That “Woman with a gadget” This is from my 2022 additions to the Recommended series – which I still need to add to the list under the Recommended tab! Rose Red Homestead is well worth taking the number one spot for 2022.

Well, the themes for the most popular 2022 posts are a lot more diverse, but not one of them made the overall list. Not by a long shot!

What I am seeing seems to show a trend towards people looking for more information on how to grow and preserve their own food.

After the past three years, that doesn’t surprise me at all. Food security has become a huge priority for so many!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here’s to a better year in 2023 for us all!

The Re-Farmer

We have such good neighbours!

I wasn’t planning on writing a post today, but I just had to share. What an awesome Christmas surprise!

When I turned on the tablet and the live feed to the garage security camera, there was something different about our driveway.

I could see grass.

We’d only been able to clear the driveway just wide enough for a vehicle to drive through, not wide enough to uncover any grass.

Someone had cleared our driveway, and we never heard a thing!

When I went out to switch the memory card on the trail cam, I could see that this was not done by our lovely neighbours, and the renters of most of this property. They would clear our driveway with their front end loader. These were ordinary tire tracks. I could see that someone drove in, clearing the driveway on one side, almost up to the burn barrel, backed up to turn around, then cleared the other side on the way out.

Of course, the first thing I did was check the memory card to see who did it and when.

It turned out to be a pickup truck with a plow attachment. It’s one I recognize and see every winter, but I’ve never been able to see the driver’s face. I had no idea who it was. Also, it was done in the early afternoon! We were busy making our dinner at the time. On the trail cam, I could see the truck go by and stop on the road, then back up to our driveway and go in, then out again – just two quick passes to widen our driveway. Normally, we would have had the gate closed and locked, but with this weather, we’ve been leaving it open. He basically took advantage of that!

So I sent a message to someone I figured might know who it was, and got a name of who it could be. I was able to send a message to that person, and it was confirmed. It turned out to be someone who was a neighbour when I was growing up, and still lives in the area, though now further away. I’ve known him for most of my life, but I don’t think I’ve seen him since we’ve moved back here. In fact, after all these years, I probably wouldn’t recognize him if I did.

We have such good neighbours! It so makes up for the problems we’ve been having with our vandal!

There is other good news. The littles are settling in quite well! Walnut already settled in almost immediately, but it getting even more exploratory. The bitty tabby is also getting better, and not running away quite as much.

Then, last night, I woke to feel a cat curled up against my leg. It was completely dark, but I could reach my phone and try for a flash picture.

Yup! It was the bitty tabby!

The bitty and Walnut have been wrestling and napping on my bed a lot more. During the night, I could feel them walking across me and the bitty – which I could recognise by the almost negligible weight – even curled up on my thigh to sleep. Then, this morning, I was able to pick the bitty up and snuggle him for a while, and he even settled in and start purring, rather than staying tense and running off.

Also, yes. The bitty is now confirmed male.

Unfortunately, we’ve still had no luck getting his sibling in the sun room. After my last failed attempt to catch it, it’s even more skittish. I was afraid that would happen!

It is already noticeably warmer out there, though. Not the actual temperature – at least not that early in the morning – but the wind has finally stopped! What a difference that makes!

While doing my rounds – and checking out the driveway! – I ran the van for a bit. My daughter’s Christmas gift to the family is going to be Chinese food. We’re pretty sure the place we usually order from will be open, but if not, we have a back up plan. It does mean driving to town, though, so I wanted to make sure to start the van and run it for a bit.

I just realized I forgot to plug the block heater back in. I’d better take Walnut off my chest and go do that now!

Yes. I have a little kitten curled up on my chest and napping as I write this.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

The Re-Farmer